Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A: Matched Author Ally Condie Introduces Us to The Only Girl In Town

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Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A: Matched Author Ally Condie Introduces Us to The Only Girl In Town

Most readers probably know Ally Condie as the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Matched trilogy, a series that played a major role in the rise of dystopian YA fiction in the early 2010s. Books like Matched, along with other mega-popular titles like Suzanne Collins’s The Hunger Games, Veronica Roth’s Divergent, and Kiera Cass’s The Selection, all encouraged young adults to think critically about the societies they live in and to be unafraid when it comes to challenging norms—particularly if those norms are harmful. 

And although Condie’s latest novel, The Only Girl In Town, may lack many of the overt dystopian elements of her previous work, it certainly sounds as though the same fierce heart and questioning spirit of self-discovery is absolutely present. In it, a young girl wakes up to find that her entire town has vanished overnight, and everyone she loves has disappeared. Her journey to find out what happened to them—and, hopefully, to bring them back—will force her to wrestle with loneliness, loss, and the difficult truths that often go hand in hand with growing up.

Here’s how the publisher describes the story. 

For July Fielding, nothing has been the same since that summer before her senior year. Or that late-August night at the jump.

Before, she had Alex to be her loyal bestie, always up for playing endless rounds of mini golf or trying every ice cream flavor at local favorite Verity. She had Sydney, who pushed her during every sweaty and wonderful cross country run, and who sometimes seemed to know July better than she knew herself. And she had Sam. Sam, who told her she was everything and left her breathless with his kisses.

Now, July is alone. Every single person in her small town of Lithia has disappeared. No family. No Alex or Sydney. No Sam. July’s only chance at unraveling the mystery of their disappearance is a series of objects, each a reminder of the people she loved most. And a recurring message that begins to appear all over town: GET TH3M BACK.

The Only Girl in Town won’t arrive on shelves until September 19, 2023, but we’re excited to be able to offer a first look at its cover right now.

The Only Girl In Town Full Cover

We also had the chance to chat with Condie herself about her upcoming novel, its central heroine, and more. 


Paste Magazine: Tell us about the premise of The Only Girl in Town. What can readers expect from this story?

This story is about a girl whose entire town disappears one evening, just about dusk. No one else is left. As she’s searching, trying to figure out where they are and what happened, the phrase GET THEM BACK keeps appearing in different places. It’s a race to see if she can solve the mystery before it’s too late and they’re gone for good. 

Paste: You’re best known for your dystopian Matched series, what inspired you to try your hand at a more contemporary YA story? 

Condie: I’ve written contemporary before (my novel Summerlost was a finalist for the Edgar Award for the Best Juvenile Mystery in the year it was published, and I loved the genre). 

I knew the setting would be contemporary for The Only Girl in Town from the very first line. It’s a story with an urgency that needs to be told both in the present tense and present time.

 Paste: Tell us about The Only Girl in Town’s heroine. What’s July Fielding like?

Condie: July is a girl who loves deeply—her friends, her family, her town. She knows people and places well, and she’s also reeling from discovering that she didn’t know them as well as she thought. She’s a runner, a sister, a friend, a girlfriend, and, most of all, herself.

Paste: Do you have a particular moment from this book that you are most excited for readers to experience?

Condie: There are a few! It’s hard to say what they are without giving too much away but there are a few moments that I think of as “edge” moments—where the character is standing on the brink of something literally, physically, or emotionally. Those are exciting (and painful, and thrilling, and all of the things!) to write.

 Paste: What would you tell fans of Matched who might be nervous about crossing genres to read your new book?

Condie: I think they’d still like this one. It’s leaner, faster-paced, and contemporary, with a very different character, but it’s also still about a girl who makes strong choices, loves deeply, and changes the game.

The Only Girl In Town will hit shelves on September 19, but you can pre-order it right now. 

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.

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